For Christmas this year, I was given a copy of the video game “Rock Band.” I guess the thrill is a little less vicarious for those of us who are actually in rock bands, but there is still something about strapping on that plastic guitar and pounding out the power chords to classic rock songs while the (virtual) crowd sings along. And aside from not having to carry your own gear, the best part of the game is the fans — they consistently go crazy, pumping their fists in the air and engaging in call-and-response choruses without a hint of self-consciousness. “Wow,” I thought the first time I noticed this, “when was the last time I went to a show where people had that much fun?”
At the Empty Bottle on Saturday, I got a pleasant reminder of what it’s like to be a fan at a show like that. Frightened Rabbit are four guys from Scotland who I first heard about last year on Sound Opinions; their album The Midnight Organ Fight was one of my favorite albums of 2008. In concert, they manage to be both achingly sincere and exceedingly funny, and give the impression that there is nowhere else they’d rather be, and nothing else they’d rather be doing — an attitude that is truly infectious to a crowd. Take a listen to this encore, for which lead singer Scott Hutchison came out with an acoustic guitar and perched atop a speaker, singing with no amplification. The crowd may not have been pumping their fists during this number, but they were certainly hanging on every word.